Some Obvious Yet Drastic Implications of the Current Campaign to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage with the Complicity and Coercion of the Federal Court System of the United States Government

The rapid cultural transformation to mainstream the practice of homosexuality now being accelerated by the Federal Court initiative to redefine marriage affirming homosexuality is on the one hand startling but on the other predictable. The decision of the Supreme Court to strike down the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has predictably opened the flood gates for the same-sex marriage movement designed to legitimize homosexuality. This tsunami wave to moralize the immoral has now engulfed 17 states and has been assisted by nine separate federal court rulings against targeted states that had previously passed constitutional affirmations of the historic definition of marriage as a covenantal, monogamous, heterosexual, and conjugal relationship. The implications are incalculable and almost enumerable but here are 7 to consider. They are selected in light of the undeniable fact that each will now become a thread woven into the social and cultural fabric of the United States. All of them will be applauded by the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) agenda proponents and will be affirmed by the secular progressives as a necessary cultural evolution. I am convinced if unchallenged these predictable consequences will soon signal the demise of what was once an imperfect but significantly blessed national heritage.

 The Seven Implications

  1. The sexual choices of citizens in the US will now be legally defined as a civil right to be affirmed and protected. Furthermore, these sexual choices will also become the controlling identity factor of an individual’s existence. In other words, one’s sexual behavior will now be considered a civil right. Initially this effort was designed to promote the acceptability of homosexuality but the rejection of the Judeo-Christian sexual ethic (sexual activity belongs in the context of a heterosexual marriage) required to accomplish the normalization of homosexuality removes the framework necessary to prevent other sexual aberrations as protected civil rights. Presently, the only legal restraint to sexual practices outside of marriage is adult consent. But without a doubt even this restraint will soon be declared immoral and illegal. Previously immoral sexual acts will now be declared not only moral but also a Civil right to be constitutionally protected. Furthermore, the idea of defining your essential identity by your sexual behavior would have been considered nonsense but now we have established a predominately sexualized culture where one’s existence is signified and defined by their sexual behavior – (I am homosexual, or I am transsexual, or I am heterosexual, etc.). The identity list now becomes endless as indicated by Facebook’s recent creation of 56 sexually defined identity choices. I’m not sure how or why they would stop at 56 but I will predict that they can’t and won’t. Of course, the sanity of the Biblical world and life view declaring our identity in life as having been created in the image of God as male and female will be a faint echo of a voice from the past. Therefore, the insanity of a national culture of sexual chaos, promiscuity, and aberration will be embraced as normal and a civil right securing the new human sexually defined identity to be legally promoted and protected by the Federal Courts of the United States. This irrational plunge into the abyss of a depraved sexualized culture will soon bring to believers legal challenges determining whether we will “obey God or man.”
  2. We will purposefully dismiss all reputable social science studies universally affirming the obvious fact that children need a two-parent, two-gender, male father and female mother environment for a beneficial and normal process of maturity through adolescence. The family unit as the irreplaceable environment to promote the spiritual, physical, psychological, educational, and economic development of children revealed in God’s Word and affirmed by observable evidences will, of necessity, be relegated to at best, an option. These studies unsurprisingly affirm that the same God who created us in His image also created marriage as a one man and one woman for one life institution. This divinely-designed family structure singularly provides the optimum environment for the well-being of children. This means a healthy culture must embrace and establish as normative families who have both a father and mother committed first to each other as a husband and wife and then to their children for life.
  3. In the name of thoughtless societal experimentation designed to moralize the immoral in a manufactured chaotic culture we will now consign children in this generation and the coming generations to the likelihood of either a fatherless or motherless home. Of course, the secular progressive authors of this mindless agenda will quickly assure us that this is best for everyone including the children in spite of all the documented evidence to the contrary. The cultural landscape will increasingly be dominated (to the demise of children) by same sex and soon to come, poly-amorous marriages with multiple gender combinations resulting in irrational and destructive family configurations as a consequence.
  4. We will officially dismiss the historic definition and declaration of marriage pronounced at the conclusion of a sacred wedding ceremony – “upon the consummation of this union before God I pronounce you husband and wife” – Obviously the dismissal of this benedictory valediction will be necessary since we will have redefined marriage in a manner which precludes the act of consummation. In a same-sex marriage it is biologically impossible to have a true husband and true wife and therefore a conjugal relationship. The religious and historically legal “sign and seal” of marriage by sexual consummation will be rendered meaningless and impossible. The marriage bed consisting of one man and one woman for one life will be replaced by inventive and vacuous sexuality in a likely soon-to-be crowded marriage bed of multiple sexually aberrant participants – same sex or otherwise.
  5. We will have dismissed the singular essential foundational block of a society and culture – the monogamous, heterosexual, conjugal covenantal marriage – which provides the necessary environment for human flourishing and the development of future generations. The tried and true creation ordinance of marriage will now become at best, a possible option and at worst, a rejected relic of the past. This previously unimaginable phenomena is the future present even though the historic definition of marriage has provided a culture which has more than doubled our lifespans while advancing living standards and providing a stable social order, all of which has produced an unprecedented era of beneficial human flourishing.
  6. We will have intentionally returned to the sexual and familial anarchy of our pagan barbarian forbearers. In other words, we are not entering into a Brave New World but re-entering a Cowardly Old World. This Old World of paganism from which Christianity had rescued our ancestors and progressively transformed their existence (and thus ours) from disorder to order has now become the new objective for today’s cultural elite – back to the future. In other words, the Biblical framework which, by consensus, had guided the moral direction of the culture in general and marriage/family in particular will be rejected for the familial anarchy of our pagan ancestors in order to promote sexual aberrancy as normal. This illogical agenda is now called a cultural progressive evolution although, in reality, it is a cultural regressive devolution.
  7. Finally and ominously, we will arrogantly position ourselves under the inevitable righteous judgment of God as previous nations and city states such as “Sodom,” “Gomorrah,” the “cities of the plains” and Empires who have long since disappeared. That judgment if not by Divine edict is inevitable by Divinely ordained consequences for those who engage in high-handed rebellion against God’s law. Those nations who knowingly break God’s law will inevitably be broken by God’s law. “What a man (nation) sows he (we) will also reap.”

Is there a way out? There is one, but only one. It is not a political movement although it would affect politics. The answer is simply, but profoundly found only in a Gospel awakening – a Gospel awakening which produces not only the life changing and culture enhancing blessings of redeeming and transforming grace through the saving work of Jesus Christ in the lives of men and women but also the work of common grace through the witness of God’s people “growing in grace.” But there will be no Gospel awakening until Christ’s church determines that to be “in the world” does not require us to be “of the world.” There will be no Gospel awakening without a loving, compassionate yet clear and distinctive witness of the redeeming and transforming grace of God in the lives of His people which alone will return the Church to its calling of being both “salt and light” in an “evil and adulterous generation.”

Finally, no such revival will be found in the Church to ignite a Gospel awakening until there is a Reformation within the leadership of Christ’s church. Specifically, a Reformation producing Pastors who in life and from their pulpits faithfully proclaim “the whole counsel of God.” Our great need is the movement of God’s grace providing persistent prayer and Christ-consumed, Bible-filled, Holy Spirit-empowered, Gospel-saturated preaching from the pulpits of local churches. O Lord, please begin with me.

 

 

The State of New Jersey and Governor Chris Christie Have Now Declared War on the First Amendment, the Family and the Church While Blaspheming the God of Glory

Okay, I will acknowledge that the title of this blog is too long and will be critiqued as provocative. But, more to the point, I am convinced it is true and if anything, understated in its content. Let’s begin with two things; the essence of the recent New Jersey Law and Gov. Christie’s statement upon signing, endorsing and promoting it, followed by an observation.

 1.     The law prohibits any and all efforts at heterosexual behavioral transformation for self-identified homosexuals, bisexuals and transgendered minors or in other words attempts at changing professed sexual orientation by professional counsellors is now illegal.

2.     Recognizing the obvious, that this state law is ultimately an aggressive invasion of parental rights, church sovereignty and religious liberty, Gov. Christie responded by first pontificating as true, the popular but non-scientific and anti-Biblical mantra, that homosexuality is a sexual practice genetically determined. After propounding the mythological “born that way” talking point designed to culturally normalize homosexual behavior, he simultaneously acknowledged that both he and the law were in conflict with the doctrinal position of his church (Roman Catholic) as to the sinfulness of homosexual practice. To remedy this problem he then proclaimed that in effect God has lied in both His Word and through His church as he assured his constituents that “homosexuality is not a sin.”

While acknowledging the difficulties of faithfully, compassionately and graciously ministering the Gospel to those entangled in sexual addictions and the challenge of addressing the culturally promoted and encouraged confusion about sexual orientation, the ramifications and implications of this latest expansion of government intrusion into the sanctity of the family, the sovereignty of the Church and an all-out and anti-constitutional assault upon the First Amendment must be considered.  Beyond that, what does the Christian and the church do in addition to prayer to rightly respond to this intrusion? This challenge is compounded in that such initiatives have been defended by the arrogant and unconscionable blasphemy of a state legislature and a state Governor declaring the consistent doctrine of sexuality as good and right only within the context of a monogamous heterosexual marital relationship and sexuality practiced outside of such a relationship as sinful and destructive is now pronounced as at best, an error and in reality, a lie. This position is found in all of the major religions in the world.  In other words the position on sexuality demonstrably foundational to society, consistently taught in God’s Word and even affirmed beyond Christianity in the major religions of the world has now been exposed as a multi-century blunder of bigotry, according to the Governor of the State of New Jersey.

Therefore, if a New Jersey parent is confronted by the ever increasingly culturally encouraged and predictable adolescent enhanced sexual confusion of their child they may do a number of things but there are some specific things they might have done in the past that they now can no longer do in the present. They will not be able to tell their child that homosexuality is wrong and sinful since such statements will inevitably be considered a charge of child abuse. This also means they cannot tell them, from God’s Word, that homosexuality is a sin and seek Gospel transformational therapy.  That of course means they cannot, in the context of addressing the issue, share the Gospel of saving grace which promises to all who believe and repent both the blessing of forgiveness of sin as well as the transforming power of God’s grace bringing victory over the practice of sin. This comprehensive Gospel promise includes sexual sins, whether mono-sexual, heterosexual, homosexual or poly-sexual. Both of the above mentioned Gospel promises of pardon and transformation in God’s Word are repeatedly offered and affirmed. Here is just one instance.

 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

I. Corinthians 6:9ff

Note clearly, along with eight other representative lifestyle sins, homosexuality is declared as an act of transgressing the Law of God or in a word – sin. The Bible also warns that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). But also note that God has loved sinners to provide a way of salvation from both the guilt and practice of sin.  In other words, the One who cannot embrace sin has embraced sinners by sending His Son to the Cross to die for our sins (including sexual sins) so that we can be forgiven – “but you were washed you were SANCTIFIED, you were JUSTIFIED in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And amazingly, this same God of grace and glory also sends the Holy Spirit to sinners so they are not only delivered from the penalty and position of sin by redeeming grace but also delivered from the power and practice of sin by transforming grace – “such WERE some of you.”

New Jersey, in opposition, has now declared acceptable what God has declared unacceptable. They, the State and Governor Christie, have pronounced God a liar, the Word of God errant, deceptive and destructive and the church complicit. Furthermore, Jesus dying for the sin of homosexuality and homosexuals (in fact for all the sins of all of His people) is at best an act of Divine ignorance and the promise of transformation and liberation from sexual addictions not only false but an evil delusion. And if parents announce such Biblical truths they are soon likely to be found culpable for discrimination, hate speech, etc.

What are the ramifications? The sanctity of the family and the sovereignty of the church have simultaneously been violated. In addition, the First Amendment, guaranteeing to individuals, families and the church “the free exercise of religion,” has been trampled by a blasphemous defaming of God and His Word through the religion of State-ism and its secular, politically correct morality, enforced by the ever increasing, invasive, powerful and arrogant expansion of the State.

So, what will churches and, even more pointedly, preachers of the Word of God in New Jersey now do? And what do we do as it inevitably spreads to other states with the predictable threats and charges of hate speech and criminality to those who affirm heterosexual, monogamous marriage as the singular sphere of virtuous sexuality? What will they/we do when teaching Gospel-blessed Biblical sexuality to our parishioners in general and our covenant children in particular results in being our being “dragged to the court?” What will they/we do with our Christian Counseling ministries? As of now in New Jersey if you, from the pulpit, in discipleship or a Counseling Center identify homosexuality a sin and offer forgiveness and transforming discipleship to teenagers you can and likely will be prosecuted. So will you/we compromise by “adjusted teaching” thus denying the authority of Christ, His Word and the Gospel or will you/we succumb to the less obvious sin of a strategic but guilty silence. Satan has brought the battle to us as he has done, buttressed by the power of the State, for 2,000 years. We, in the west have, in God’s kind Providence, been living in a cultural bubble that, without a Gospel Awakening, is about to burst. Our forbearers met the test of Rome with the courage and humility of grace. They refused to compromise and instead proclaimed “the whole counsel of God.” Even upon the penalty of death they would not say “Caesar is lord.” On the contrary, they established the earliest confession of the church and the Christian by proclaiming “Jesus is Lord.”

So now the question has been put to us. Is New Jersey lord? Is Gov. Christie lord? Since a state legislature and Governor (please note the one Democratic-controlled and the other Republican- an arena for bi-partisanship has finally been found) have now, with unadorned blasphemy and the unconstitutional dismissal of the First Amendment and therefore, the “free exercise of religion,” declared themselves as the definers of sin and righteousness in opposition to God and His Word – not to mention the givers of a new law above the Law of the nation, i.e. the Constitution. We now must decide as those who have gone before us did…is Jesus Lord or is the State lord?

To unashamedly paraphrase Martin Luther – wherever Satan brings the battle to bear upon the Church if we do not meet it with a courageous humility of grace and truth, everything else we do is in reality cowardice.

A “Supremely” Assured Devolution and Destruction of Marriage and Culture

Dr. Harry Reeder was asked to write the following for the Birmingham News Opinions/Editorials page by Mr. Joey Kennedy. It has been published on al.com.

http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/07/a_supremely_assured_devolution.html

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)! Did they? The answer is both yes and no.

The answer is no “factually.” SCOTUS left DOMA intact and even stated (disingenuously) that the Federal government has no Constitutional interest in defining marriage since it is a matter of state law. But the DOMA provision denying Federal benefits to same-sex couples living in states not recognizing same-sex marriage was declared unconstitutional. So how is it yes “actually?” Why were the “progressively cultural elites” high-fiving and cheering if it was not a “factual victory?” They knew the decision secured an inevitable “actual victory,” establishing a relentless trajectory to redefine marriage to accommodate so called same-sex marriage, driven by the desire to culturally affirm homosexuality as normative with its attendants of bi-sexuality and transgender-ism. So, where will this journey backward to the pagan practices of marital and sexual anarchy from which our barbarian forbearers were rescued centuries ago by the beneficial effects of Christianity lead us? Furthermore, how do those who desire to affirm and maintain the foundational institution of covenantal, conjugal, heterosexual, monogamous marriage respond to this marital and cultural devolution? First, let’s identify the inevitable consequences of this irrational and unconstitutional decision rivaled only by the devastating Dred Scott and Roe v. Wade rulings.

Consequence #1

All of the major religions of the world and the centuries of cultural progress and stability that the historic institution of marriage has provided is now framed by Justice Kennedy as “inhumane,” “stigmatizing,” “intolerant” and “bigoted.” So, who is actually “stigmatizing,” “intolerant” and “bigoted?” This, at best thoughtless and at worst, absurd language in the majority opinion was clearly designed not only to frame the opposition but also to intimidate.

Consequence #2

The “historic” view affirming marriage as essential to establishing families as the foundational building block of culture is now abandoned for a redefined view of marriage. Historically marriage was a covenantal (assent), conjugal (sexually consummated), monogamous (i.e. Utah was not allowed into the Union until they affirmed monogamy outlawing polygamy) and child-focused, protecting and nurturing the next generation. The “new” definition of marriage is an agreed partnership for personal fulfillment accommodating and affirming as normative any sexual behavior agreed upon by “consenting” adults. Therefore, marriage is no longer exclusively heterosexual. Monogamy cannot logically or legally be maintained since the identical arguments to abandon the “historic” view will also eventually affirm poly-amorous, bigamous, and polygamous “marriages.” Furthermore, marriage will no longer be conjugal as sexual consummation is biologically impossible in same-sex marriages. Finally, the flourishing of the next generation will no longer be the primal focus of marriage for two reasons. One, same-sex marriage cannot biologically reproduce children apart from technological intrusion and intervention. Two, by law and definition SCOTUS has now sentenced a segment of the next generation to either a “fatherless” or “motherless” family. A father’s love and guidance is overlapping yet distinct from a mother’s love and guidance and the reverse is also true. Both are necessary for a child’s well-being. While you can be a man or a woman and not give a father’s or mother’s love you cannot give a father’s love without being a man nor a mother’s love without being a woman. Men and women are equal but not interchangeable. In a broken world with disease, death and divorce single parenting is a reality which must be thoughtfully addressed with compassion by responsive communities, extended families and churches. But same-sex marriage and its future mutations intentionally assigns children to the disaster of either a fatherless or motherless childhood out of our self-absorbed pursuit of sexual anarchy now accommodated by sexual, marital and family chaos.

Consequence #3

Enshrining Four Mythologies:

Myth #1: The untenable notion Biblically or scientifically that the practice of homosexuality is a genetically-determined sexual behavior.

Myth #2:  To love and accept someone you must affirm and accept their behavior. As a sinner, saved by grace, I am called to love and accept others humbly and intentionally. But doing so does not require affirming and accepting their behavior. In fact, it may require challenging their behavior. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” To love a heterosexually promiscuous person, for instance, does not require me to accept and affirm their sexually immoral behavior even if they insist they cannot help themselves. I can share the forgiving grace of God in Christ who paid for our sins on the cross and the transforming power of God’s grace in Christ who not only “takes away our sins” but “takes us away from our sins”.

Myth #3: Tolerance as a virtue. Tolerance is actually the last refuge of the arrogant, bigoted and self-righteous. God calls Christians not to patronizingly tolerate others but to actively love them. Sin is not tolerated because it kills. People are not tolerated because it demeans. Homosexuals are no different than any of us caught in the deceptive, idolatry of any addictive sin. They, like us, are to be loved compassionately and courageously.

Myth #4: Sexually immoral behavior has amazingly become a civil right. This is an absolute affront to those who have experienced discrimination due to their God-given skin color.

Response? As a citizen, thoughtfully be engaged. Public policy is locally driven and the result of cultural engagement. As a Christian, first pray that the Lord would not “give us over” and instead send another Gospel Awakening like the one that gave birth to this nation in the 18th century. Second, commit “to speak the truth in love.” “Truth without love is barbarity and love without truth is cruelty.” Christ warned us that men and women, unrestrained by God’s grace, will call good, evil and evil, good. But in reality, while we may call what is immoral, legal, we cannot make moral what God has declared immoral. Finally remember that, in a sense, the SCOTUS decision has not changed a thing. The issues are still the same. “The wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” This message saves sinners with redeeming grace and blesses a nation with common grace.

Thoughts on 40 Years of Roe v Wade and the American Culture of Death

…I have set before you life and death…now choose life so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life…Deut 30:20ff

Having passed the 40th year commemoration of the unconstitutional, illegal and utterly devastating Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision producing legislation and now public funding for the unprecedented assault upon the unborn child in the womb, I think it is proper to reflect on its devastating effect as a key event in the death spiral of western culture. We have moved from being a culture that imperfectly yet intentionally affirms, appreciates and celebrates life and liberty to one that now allows, funds and applauds a fabricated right to put to death the most helpless individuals in society who reside in what ought to be the safest place in society – the womb of their mother. Christ-followers, saved by grace, are called in no uncertain terms to “choose life” in the midst of the onslaught of death in a culture of unbridled self-absorption and self-aggrandizement. In response to the mounting tide of depravity in a society aggressively and militantly opposed to the Word of God, believers must “choose life.” The moment demands the choice. Will the people of God, who are redeemed by the grace of God, surrender to the culture of death and despair? Or will we choose to promote and proclaim a culture of life and hope? The dilemma and the moment are neither new nor unique.

God’s covenant people have always been surrounded by cultures of death and despair in a fallen world.  In Egypt during the captivity, the governmental assault upon children was met by Hebrew midwives who “chose life.” In Rome, during the beginning of the New Testament church, Christians were surrounded by a death culture where widows were left to die, unwanted children were thrown into rivers and trash heaps, and the helpless were virtually eliminated. But believers cared for the widows; they fished children out of rivers and rescued them from trash heaps; they helped the helpless while refusing, under the penalty of death, to say “Caesar is lord” in order to confess that “Jesus is Lord.”

Considering the horror of pagan cultures living in death and despair provokes within us an emotional tide of revulsion, yet today’s evangelical church does not need to look back to the corridors of history…we can simply survey our current neo-pagan culture.  We live in an America that is addicted to sexual promiscuity, perversion, and violence, all the while drowning in a culture of death that is propagated by media fascination, entertainment profits and by an academic community which promotes ethical chaos in the pursuit of personal ascendancy. The result? Children, who survived as targets for death in the womb, are now making other children the targets of death while blithely going on their own personal journey into an adulthood of unrestrained narcissism that was initiated by the generation that raised them.

NEWTOWN, CONNECTICUT

Many were rightly horrified when the December 14, 2012 Newtown, Connecticut massacre began to fill the news cycle, not only in America, but throughout the world.  Twenty children and six adults were killed.  It was an onslaught of death and mayhem in of all places, the pre-supposed safe haven of an elementary school. But not announced by the news media, on the very same day in Connecticut seventy other children were assaulted and put to death in what ought to be the safest haven in all of God’s creation—the womb. Furthermore, on December 15, 2012, seventy more were put to death; on December 16, 2012, seventy more; on December 17, 18 and on, and on, and on. 

On that horrific day we observed elected leaders shed tears over those twenty students. And rightly so! But it should also be noted that many of these same leaders, just weeks before, applauded and cheered as the votes were cast and counted for a platform plank consigning an untold number of children in the womb to death by an adopted policy of unfettered abortion (soon to be publicly funded). For this astonishing phenomenon simply view the re-runs of the Democratic Party National Convention while listening to the carefully worded policies announced and approved to affirm the unrestrained promotion of abortion while promising public funding, all with the attendant applause and cheers of a pep rally.

9/11/2001 AND ROE v WADE

Allow an attempt to try and put the horror of abortion and our death culture in perspective. On September 11, 2001, we all heard and saw how religious terrorists using airplanes took the lives of 3,000 innocent Americans. On that same day another three thousand plus innocent Americans came under the terrorist assault of the abortionist’s needle or knife. Another three thousand were assaulted the next day. Then the next. Then the next, and on to this very day and every day since. Yet no one except those performing the acts of terror upon these children saw or heard the horror of their death, and few tears—if any—were shed for them.

Since the Roe v Wade decision 40 years ago, 60 plus million human lives have been aborted, and therefore destroyed. Less than 2% of those abortions occurred to save the life of the mother. We live in a culture that unhesitatingly and arrogantly celebrates its autonomy against the law of God – “Thou shalt not murder.” Then, when the culture of death we have initiated strikes a school yard, we fumble around for solutions which are politically correct but inherently thoughtless, superficial and illogical. Why? Because we refuse to see evil for what it is, lest we see ourselves in the mirror of depravity and have to own our responsibility for what it is: complicity. So instead of thoughtfully investigating the root of our society’s problems and recognizing the horror of death and despair that engulfs our culture, our leaders actually promote a surrender to the death culture with solutions that turn our schools into miniature prisons, complete with barricades, barbed wire, armed guards and locked doors. If the womb isn’t safe, why would we assume a locked-down school would be safe in the American death culture?

A LESSON FROM NOSTALGIA

Is it possible that someone might simply raise the question in public discourse, “Oh my goodness, fifty years ago children, as a matter of course, walked to school and then came home?”  I doubt they would. Because that would lead to the next question: “Why can’t they do so today?” Fifty years ago, our children did not need armed guards to protect them at school. They walked to school, walked home and then played outside. Who today would allow their children to walk to school or play unsupervised in the neighborhood? No, today we must guard them and imprison them in order to protect them from the death culture we have produced. Guns? There were plenty of guns 50 years ago. Did guns suddenly develop a mind of their own or spontaneously become aggressive? Obviously not!

The true question is this: what kind of culture produces people who use guns, not for protection but rather for murder, mayhem and massacre, in order to create a moment of personal significance? We have enlarged our culture of death from targeting children in the womb to targeting children in the classroom. The politically correct response is to legislate gun control and ban firearms. The thoughtful will immediately recognize that the evil of death by the use of guns will never be stopped by outlawing guns any more than outlawing spoons will solve the problem of morbid obesity. We desperately need leaders who do not put Band-Aids on our cultural cancer. We need leaders who will do surgery and we need a revived church to bring a Gospel stem-cell transplant to a society on its deathbed.

TWO REASONS FOR OUR CULTURE OF DEATH

So how did we get here? Risking the criticism of being overly simplistic, I would suggest we have arrived in a culture of death via two watershed events. The first is the unchallenged predominance of an atheistic Darwinism – the evolutionary view of origins that is relentlessly taught and promoted without allowing debate in the academy, the media and the public square. Its religious faith-premise is that all of creation and humanity is somehow the result of a chance explosion of bits, pieces, molecules and atoms (of course we have no idea of their origin as freely admitted by even its proponents). All of this somehow “explosively” produced life, laws, beauty and order further developed by mutation and “the survival of the fittest” as the necessary violent mechanism propelling the evolution of life to present day humanity.

The unchallenged irrationality of Darwinian evolution married to the religion of atheism logically paves the way to the targeting of the vulnerable and the inconvenient in our culture of death. It is the “powerful” and “the fittest surviving” by bringing the weapons of death upon the unfit, the weak and the unwanted. To be even more precise: the most vulnerable and inconvenient targets for death will be children. First, the children in the womb where we can’t see or hear them die; then, the children in the schoolroom where, at least for the moment, we are thankfully still horrified by seeing and hearing them die. Yet even as I write this, I hear an L.A. news station report that two 5th graders with a hit list, a gun, and a knife were caught planning to start a killing spree beginning with a 5th grade girl who had annoyed them.

Secondly, as Dr. Frances Schaeffer warned us years ago in his prescient production, Whatever Happened to the Human Race?, abortion would only be the beginning of a publicly affirmed and applauded culture of death. Roe v Wade has devolved into state approved – now state funded and politically cheered – abortion with no ethical or even emotional restraints.  Have you noticed that you no longer hear people say, “let’s keep abortion but make it safe and rare?”  Of course, the statement is obviously nonsensical. If, in fact, that which is in the womb is nothing more than an inconvenient piece of valueless tissue or a choice, then why should abortion be “safe and rare?” You don’t hear politicians or doctors advocating for “safe and rare” tonsillectomies, appendectomies or elective surgeries. The reason we used to hear, “keep it safe and rare,” is because deep down we knew it was not a tissue; it was not a choice; it is simply not an “it”. It is a child and therefore a life. That’s why the abortion debate will not silently go away even after 40 years. We all know in our hearts that what resides in a womb is a life. That’s why husbands say, “My wife is with child.” That is why mothers say, “I’m pregnant with a child.” They don’t say, “We are with fetus.” All of us know, biologically and in our hearts, that what resides in the womb is a person complete with its Divinely-designed DNA for life. It is a life. It is a child.

Roe v Wade was just as imbecilic and self-contradictory—both logically and constitutionally—as the Supreme Court cases used to uphold slavery a century ago by declaring human beings as 3/5th of a person. Just as the church, beginning with the pulpit, should have spoken then, we must speak now. We know, no matter what the government says, a life in the womb is a living child. As Christ-followers we cannot keep silent. Yet according to a reputable survey, 76% of the members of Protestant churches believe Roe v Wade should be untouched and 64% of Roman Catholics believe the same. At the moment, the only religious entity that has a majority who say something should be done about Roe v Wade is the Evangelical church, and that only by a tenuous majority of 54%.

Abortion and its inevitable offspring of infanticide are soon to be followed by the requirement of the elderly to die in a rationed health care society—active euthanasia. We are drowning in a culture of death and despair. As grateful as I am that people are horrified with massacres like Newtown, Aurora, Virginia Tech, and Columbine, the reality is that we ought to be asking ourselves other questions: “Why is it that we have a dominant, dark, gothic culture of death where the biggest movie attractions are saturated with graphic and gratuitous death and destruction? Why is it that our most popular video games train children and youth to keep score by the senseless slaughter of others in order to ‘win?’” Why? Why are we so entranced by death?

THE THIRD RAIL

I would suggest, though, that there is a third reason for the culture of death and despair. The culture is often unchallenged by professing believers because the church and the culture are consistently unchallenged by silent pulpits. To my preaching colleagues – we  cannot therefore we must not be silent. Your voice for life may initially cost attendance and applause. It may lead to persecution. But silence is not an option. What would have happened if our preacher forbearers had spoken from the pulpits in the 19th century with Biblical clarity on the insane practice of chattel slavery (man stealing), as William Wilberforce and John Newton did in England? Perhaps 700,000 lives lost in the Civil War might have been spared and an entire race of people affirmed with freedom and dignity. Silence was wrong then and silence is wrong now. If we choose to be silent then in reality we have chosen to affirm and accelerate the culture of death and despair. Furthermore, our people will neither be awakened nor equipped to “set life” before a broken and fallen world.

Remarkably, many of us as pastors will speak eloquently from our pulpits on the moral issues applauded by our contemporary culture. Issues such as racism and sex-trafficking will permeate our discourse, and well they should! But why do our members have to make an office appointment with us to find out where we stand on the Sanctity of Life and abortion? Could it be because our selective pulpit ministry only embraces the moral and social issues of justice approved by our culture, while we avoid those issues of which it disapproves?  Are we fearfully hiding behind the veil of ministry contextualization to avoid “speaking the truth in love”? Contextualization in ministry rightly understood means for us to speak in terms the culture understands. But today contextualization means speaking only on the terms the culture approves. Contextualization then becomes an excuse for our pulpit silence on the issues which our culture forbids us to address yet we readily speak to the issues the culture dictates and approves.

Recently I read excerpts from journals written by confessing evangelical pastors in Germany after WWII. With broken hearts, these pastors acknowledged, “We saw the Nazis taking the Jewish people to slaughter and we closed our eyes and shut out ears to save ourselves and our ministries.” One pastor said, “The Jewish prisoners, jammed in railroad cars crying for help passed behind our church each Sunday. Our response was to turn up the organ louder so we could not hear them.”

The only difference between our German predecessors and us today is that we cannot hear the silent screams uttered from the womb. But we know they are screaming as they are taken to slaughter. We turn up the volume in our worship services and turn down the volume in our pulpits on the issue of a child’s life in the womb. Is it possible that we could, beginning with the pulpit, “choose life” and therefore regain the ability and authority to “set life” before our culture appropriately, thoughtfully, compassionately, and courageously. If we do not, then we have, by default, chosen death. We have said “no” to life which, in turn, makes us complicit in the prevailing culture of death. Today, you and I live in a nation where 35 to 40% of all children conceived this year will be murdered by the abortionist’s knife or needle. This phenomenon is cascading into a flood of death, from abortion to infanticide; not only in the hospital nursery with signs that say, “Do not feed” but also in our homes. Of the children ages 5 and under who are murdered each year, one out of three will be killed by their parents.

WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?

As stated earlier, I believe we are in this situation because of the devastating and unscientific view of origins (atheistic Darwinian evolution) and because of the 40 year Roe v Wade journey into death and despair (with its affirmation and public funding of a politically enforced unrestrained right to kill the most defenseless life in God’s creation, a child in the womb), and because of the silence in our pulpits resulting in the deafening silence of  Christians. But there is a solution! God’s people can, in contrast to this culture, as urged in Deuteronomy 30:20 “choose life” and “set life” before a dying world. We can call our culture to “choose life” by modeling a culture of life in the church. How?

When believers “choose life” it means first and foremost to choose God, to surrender to His saving grace in Christ and then worship Him in all of life. Imagine what would happen if we, as believers, worshiped the Triune God of glory, not only when we gather on Sundays but also with our lives. Inevitably the culture of death would be faced with a flourishing culture of life reveling in the glory of God as Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer?

What would happen to the American culture of death if, in God’s Providence, those of us not blessed biologically with children would say to the world: “Give us your unwanted children. Don’t kill them. Give them to us. We will place them in our foster homes. We will adopt them into our own families.” God’s people must choose life and hope and then offer it to those drowning in the culture of death and despair by giving them a choice of life and hope for them and their children. When God is worshipped because God’s grace in Christ has set us free to live life with courage, conviction and compassion, then God’s people can “set life” before those who are the purveyors of death and who are the targets of death in the culture.

PERSONALLY CHOOSE LIFE

I know some reading this, while influenced by the culture of death and despair, which married to a relentless pursuit of self-love and the idolatry of happiness as defined by the world inevitably leads to wrong decisions. Perhaps in that moment you chose death for an unborn or perhaps you encouraged, funded or pressured a woman to choose death for an unborn. I long for you to know that the Gospel of grace will bring you life and forgiveness today if you will “choose life” in Christ!  David took the life of Uriah, but by God’s grace he repented and was forgiven. Moses took the life of an Egyptian. He repented and was forgiven. Paul, previously Saul, was a religious terrorist. He repented and was forgiven. There is a Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who will forgive you if, by repentance and faith, you will turn to him. Come to Him—Jesus saves. Don’t travel the dead-end road of behavior modification. Don’t play the victim. Don’t live in denial. Simply yet profoundly say, “Lord, I have sinned, but in you I have a Risen Savior who died on the cross for my sins. Forgive me—save me.

As for those of us who have been guilty of silence or who have disengaged from the culture: we can also repent and “choose life”. Then, together, we can and will commit to setting life before the culture death.

Our first step is to proclaim the life-redeeming Gospel of Jesus Christ to lost men and women who have embraced the deceitfulness of the father of lies, Satan, who “was a murderer from the beginning.”  If we will persistently and passionately bring the Gospel of saving grace and life to others by announcing that Jesus Christ freely saves sinners, and if we would disciple Christ-followers so that they develop Christ-centered LifeStyles, then they will be propelled by a Christ-centered LifeLove, informed by a Christ-centered LifeView, and we, with compassion, humility, courage and conviction, will propagate life and hope to a culture of death and despair. Intentionally, we would embrace Gospel deeds of love, mercy, and justice. We would also engage in intentional Gospel-evangelism and disciple-making and others would see Christ in us and hear Christ from us. Christ, the Lord of glory—Christ, the Word of life—Christ, the Lord of life.

Finally, we must engage the culture in multiple venues, undergirded first and foremost by intercessory prayer. The battle is the Lord’s.  So let’s pray to the Victor of the battle that He will use us and empower us. We know the culture of death is rooted in the financial industry of death and its multi-billion dollar profits and will not be defeated without an enormous struggle. When we “choose life” and assault death, we will inevitably become a target of the death culture because of its financial investments, its gods of mammon and its self-absorption are threatened. The evil empire of darkness will assuredly strike back. In that day only the Lord can give us the victory and He gives the victories through praying people.

Engage prayerfully in Gospel evangelism and discipleship. Then thoughtfully engage the issues of the day.  The opportunities are limitless. Perhaps you will be involved at the point of legislation, restraining the death spiral of the culture. Perhaps you can engage by ministering to women in crisis situations through Save-A-Life Ministries or by opening your home to foster care or adoption. Perhaps you can encourage and support the single mom who chooses life with your love, fellowship and hospitality. Investigate every avenue and prayerfully seek how the Lord might lead you and use you. But don’t sit on the sidelines and don’t be silent.

Contrary to atheistic Darwin evolution, life is not a cosmic accident developed by chance through mindless mutations. You are not here bearing the image of God by virtue of the “survival of the fittest.” Life is Divinely designed and created. Life is sacred from conception until death. The Lord gives life and the Lord takes away life. The assault on children in the womb, in the classroom, in the hospital nursery and in the nursing homes targeting the unproductive and the unwanted will consume us or we will challenge it. It must be challenged with the “weapons of the Spirit” and the “power of the Gospel.”

OUR COMMITTMENT

You ask, “What can I do? I am just an ordinary everyday person. Do you really believe I can make a difference?”  How I wish I could eradicate that thought from your mind! Many, just like you, are making a monumental difference –with organizations like Save-A-Life, tutoring programs, marriage counseling and ministries of mercy. One preacher said it this way: “to make a difference you simply have to be FIT—Faithful, Intentional, and Teachable.” Here am I Lord. I will not be silent nor watch from the sidelines. I will “choose life” out of love to You who brought life to me in Christ. By the grace of God, I will set before this culture life through Gospel evangelism, discipleship, ministries of mercy and justice while engaging the public square. But do know this: God loves to take ordinary people and do extraordinary things.

One such man was named Telemachus, a fourth century, pastor and monk. At the conclusion of his life and knowing he didn’t have long to live, Telemachus decided to make a pilgrimage to Rome. When he arrived, he was swept up with the crowd into the Coliseum. Suddenly, in front of his eyes, he saw what he had heard about but dared not believe was true.  Muscled, trained men for the entertainment of others were engaged in mortal combat – The Gladiators. With horror Telemachus saw them kill each other while spectators cheered and laughed at the gory, frenzied spectacle. But on that day in the Coliseum Telemachus “chose life” and “set life” before Rome.

From his seat he cried out, “In the name of Christ, stop! In the name of Christ, stop!” No one was listening so he moved to the edge of wall, stood on it and said “In the name of Christ, stop! In the name of Christ, stop.” No one paid any attention except some nearby who mocked and jeered him. Still not content he jumped into the arena. Standing between the Gladiators he said “In the name of Christ, stop!” One agitated Gladiator pushed him aside but he returned. Then Telemachus pushed his way between the armed Gladiators and held his hands before them and said “In the name of Christ, stop!” The Gladiator now, clearly annoyed and irritated, took his weapon and ran it through Telemachus. He lifted him up and impaled him in the ground.

As his life blood drained out, with his last breath Telemachus said, “Please, in the name of Christ, stop.”  The Gladiator who killed him stopped, looked, and laid down his weapon. The other Gladiators, who were thought to be accustomed to death, looked at the dying monk and ceased their combat and laid down their weapons. The crowd that had been mocking, laughing, and cheering became eerily silent. Then as if someone had given a signal to all of them, the Gladiators and the crowd, walked out of the Coliseum in utter silence. The profitable governmental entertainment pacifier of the culture of death on that day ceased to exist. That was the last day Gladiator battles were conducted in the Roman Coliseum.

I don’t know how God will lead you but, like Telemachus, you can “choose life” and “set life” before our culture of death. Proclaim the Gospel and, in the midst of death, with your last breath say, “In the name of Christ, stop!” The point is not so much that you or I can make a difference for Christ but, like Telemachus, we will not make a difference simply with our voice or from the stands. Those whom the Lord uses to make a difference, in the Name of Christ, must go into the arena and be willing to die.

Thoughts on the Insanity and Absurdity of Sending Our Wives and Daughters Into Combat and Three Egalitarian Myths

“And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Gen. 1:27

My wife is Cindy. Cindy and I are different. Praise the Lord! This is an obvious statement. In fact, it is more accurately an understatement. In legal terms and God-given inalienable rights, my wife and I, like other men and women, are absolutely equal. Furthermore, we are equal as Christians. Both of us are sinners and incapable of saving ourselves or coming up with a religion that is able to save us. Most of all we are equal in that both of us have been gloriously and undeservedly saved by the grace of God from the tomb of sin to the triumph of Christ by His Cross and by His Resurrection. Yet those marvelous realities of equality do not mean that we are the same.

Egalitarian Myth #1: Equality = Sameness!
Let me give some examples. First one is academic ability. Cindy was in the Honor Society and graduated Cum Laude. I … graduated. (It was reported that when I walked across the stage and received my diploma my dad did shout “laude how come!”) At times, Cindy and I have the opportunity to work out together at the gym. We do not lift the same weights. Likewise in parenting, Cindy, as wonderful as she is, cannot give a father’s love to our children; nor can I give them that unique dynamic of a mother’s love. We are not the same. We are equal but not the same. We are different and that is a glorious blessing for us and our children. Why? Because our children need us as parents of equality but they also need us in the distinctive yet complementary roles of mother and father which are made possible in light of our gender-based differences.

All of the above, which can be multiplied by similar illustrations, do not exist because of tradition-laden cultural oppression. They exist simply, yet profoundly, because of our Divinely-designed differences. We are not the product of a series of cosmic accidents and mindless mutations. God made me and He made Cindy, just as He did each and every one of us. All of us are created equal but none of us are created the same individually nor are we afflicted with gender sameness. “Man” is created male and female and therefore unique by gender as well as individually. But even more to the point of this particular article, God made me as a man both able and responsible to protect my wife. Common sense and natural law not only support this claim, they punctuate it. This does not mean that in a moment of danger a woman’s motherly protective instincts will not rise to the occasion, but it does mean that I am the one who was designed and called to protect her, as well as our children.

The conviction of this moral imperative embedded in the culture through Christian influence is why the sinking of the Titanic recorded the sacrificial deaths of hundreds of men, many of whom were multi-billionaires while hundreds of women and children – some of whom were domestics and indentured servants – were saved. Women and children first to the lifeboats! Interestingly, we recently witnessed the sinking of a cruise liner in the Mediterranean Sea, providing a vivid example of the rampant narcissism and gender chaos of today’s culture as everyone stampeded for the lifeboats only to be outdistanced by the captain. Our wives and daughters can and may have to assist us in an extremity as we regularly complement each other daily but men bear the primary responsibility to protect and provide for their wives and daughters intentionally. Let me repeat, after experiencing and observing the bravery of women, I am fully aware and assured of their desire and readiness to assist in any emergency and men and women do not live in isolation of one another but interdependently with each other. But as men we do not and must not send our wives and daughters to protect us and our homes.

Egalitarian Myth #2: Equality = Interchangeability.
Men and women complement each other by their ontological equality and their existential diversity. Men and women are not interchangeable parts with only insignificant physical cosmetic differences. We are equal, yet we are different and therefore not interchangeable; biologically, psychologically, physiologically, socially, relationally, etc. Simply consider some of the delightful everyday common experiences we have with one another by observing the unique ways men and women converse, relate, observe, problem-solve, plan, perceive life, use words and on and on. The list is delightfully endless. We are equal but not the same; we are equal but not interchangeable.

Egalitarian Myth #3: Gender Distinctiveness = Gender Superiority/Inferiority
Difference is not an issue of superiority or inferiority, it is simply difference. In reality, the difference we enjoy is marvelous and ought to be celebrated instead of attacked, circumvented and denied. Why do we arrogantly and aggressively avoid our complementary gifts, skills and calling to descend into the myth of egalitarianism? At best it is the result of misguided policies; or at worst the result of an agenda propagated by self-anointed social engineers who are motivated by an atheistic Darwinian evolutionary view of origins, which, in essence, is demonstrably more philosophical and religious than scientific.

The Practical Reality
Let me pose the question begging to be asked and answered. In the full scope of a national military system, is there a place for women to participate by using their unique gifts to complement the combat role of men to properly protect our nation or, as it is called today, our Home(land)? Absolutely! One only has to read the history of how the complementary role of women contributed to the stunning 3-front victory of World War II and furthermore, how it actually supplied and enabled men to victoriously endure combat. Or the Deborah’s and Jael’s in the Bible. But is that place to replace the role of men who are created, designed and called to physically and, if necessary, violently and combatively defend and protect their home and those who reside within it? Absolutely not!

It’s late at night. I hear the glass in the door downstairs breaking and the door opening and then footsteps. I turn to my wife and say “Honey, there is someone breaking into our home downstairs and, since I know you are willing, why don’t you go downstairs and see if you can overpower him? By the way if he maims you or kills you don’t worry! I have two daughters who are brave enough to go down and risk their life to protect our home while I remain here safe.

This hypothetical scenario is patently and stunningly ridiculous. Yet, interestingly what we would be embarrassed to contemplate personally much less actually do within our own home we are assertively doing nationally with either pathetic naiveté or intentionally absurdity.

The Unbelievable Reality
The unbelievable reality is that the men of this nation are allowing the politically correct, elected officials in general and unfortunately our President in particular—along with the elite self-appointed culture-shapers pontificating while shielded in the media and the academy—to institute policies which will send our wives and daughters, not effectively into the military to use their unique skills and abilities to enhance our armed forces, but to the front lines to protect the Home(land) while they (and we) remain safely in our room. Forget for the moment the obvious arguments of how ignoring gender differences will inevitably force the adoption of inadequate training regimens and standards, inadequate testing for combat readiness, necessary redefinition of combat protocols and the inevitable sexual mayhem in the combat theater (already documented). I am fully aware of the claim that today’s combat is not the same and to some degree I agree. But boots on the ground, hand to hand combat, dragging a 200+ comrade to safety, carrying 45 lb. support equipment, etc. has not and will not change.

Finally, it is simply and utterly staggering to hear the President of the United States in the same speech question whether he would allow his son to play football because it is too dangerous while simultaneously promoting an irrational and mythical moral imperative to send the wives and daughters of our nation into harm’s way to possibly be killed and maimed on the front lines. I have heard the argument – “but it is a volunteer armed service.” It is at the moment until a draft is necessary and given the present framework used to promote women in combat, the drafting of our wives and daughters would be inevitable and inevitably pursued legally. Now consider how many fathers and husbands will be imprisoned before they allow this travesty to be visited upon their marriages and their families. This historically unthinkable initiative will not only degrade our military readiness and effectiveness, it will also ultimately demoralize an entire nation in the name and cause of an unrestrained and foolish definition of equality – the untenable notion that equality demands gender sameness and interchangeability.

The juggernaut of social and cultural irrationality has now spread from the laughable and the ridiculous to the dangerous and the frightening, as a nation sacrifices its wives and daughters by sending them into combat at the inevitable expense of national security, combat integrity, military effectiveness and efficiency. We are in desperate need of sane and courageous leadership. Unfortunately my generation, decade after decade, has proven itself incapable of providing such leaders and/or solving cultural problems. Yet we do seem to be quite adept at creating them. In our narcissistic fascination arrogantly promoting cultural absurdity and insanity which is now supported and propagated in the halls of government and a Pentagon led by politically correct and politically ambitious Generals, we have clearly lost our way. My hope and prayer is that the patience of God will lead us to repentance (that’s correct…I believe this is sin) and a Gospel awakening through the next generation, bringing a flood of redeeming and transforming grace which will produce an outpouring and overflow of God’s common grace. I freely admit my desire and prayer that my children and grandchildren might inherit a nation of sanity and not the national ruins of absurdity in rebellion against the Triune God of glory, who alone is Creator, Redeemer and Provider.

An Election Day Prayer for America

The elections of 2010 are obviously an important opportunity for God’s people to respond to our Lord’s injunction to “be anxious for nothing but in everything, by prayer and supplication, make your requests known to the Lord” as well as our Lord’s command to pray for those in authority over us.

Father, we rejoice to be able to call upon the Almighty in whom we trust, in whom is our refuge, and for whom we live. We are a needy people. Your people who reside in the United States of America now approach a crucial election. Therefore, we call upon the Lord our God who has been our help in ages past and who will be our hope for years to come. Would you allow your people during this election season to call upon You for wisdom as to how we cast our vote and for whom we cast it. We are struck with awe at Your kind providence which allows us to be in a country that is governed by law through elected representatives. Your Word reminds us this is a kind gift of Your benevolent Hand and history informs us that this privilege has been purchased by the blood of patriots and freedom martyrs, some followers of Christ and some who are not followers of Christ.  We are beneficiaries of the extraordinary Biblical truth… “greater love has no man than this, that He lay down his life for his friends.”

So, glorious sovereign, we would not neglect this opportunity to vote nor engage in this privilege in a frivolous manner but with sobriety and wisdom, so we ask for the wisdom from above that is peaceable, reasonable, and fruitful. In this election process, grant us the leaders we need, not those that we deserve. Grant us statesmen who will do the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, and for the right reasons. We desperately need such statesmen who will do what is good for the next generation, not simply what is advantageous for the next election.

Finally, Father, allow us to be good citizens in the name of Christ who honors those in authority with submissions and who upholds them through prayer and who gives them the respect that their office demands. If they would ever command us to do that which violates Your Law we would seek to be faithful to You. But, if they call us to do that which we do not prefer, we will still be faithful to You and obey those who are in authority, knowing they exist only by Your Hand.  O Lord, for all who are elected and for those now serving, gloriously turn their hearts to love justice, to do mercy and walk humbly with the Lord our God.  Turn their hearts to You even as You turned the rivers to the seas.  Father, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.